How to Distress Cotton-Blended Fabrics

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Things You'll Need

  • Fine grain sandpaper

  • Rough rock, such as a piece of sandstone

  • Bleach

  • Spray bottle

  • Coffee

  • Sponge

Cotton-blend fabrics come in a wide variety of densities.
Image Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Distressing fabrics is a fantastic way to get that aged look without waiting a few years for the results. Cotton-blend fabrics are ideal candidates for the distressing process because they are malleable and more durable than a 100 percent cotton fabric. Mix and match techniques to get the perfect worn look.


Step 1

Wash the fabric in cold water a few times to help soften the fabric and wear in the fibers a bit. If you are not concerned about shrinkage, wash the fabric in hot water to help the distressing process.

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Step 2

Rub a piece of fine grain sandpaper over the edges and seams of the garment to replicate light wear and tear on the fabric. Use quick, short motions to go over the material about five to 10 times to remove some of the top layer of fabric and dye. On jeans, concentrate around the knees or on pockets, which are areas where you might want to simulate usage.


Step 3

Create rougher textures on the fabric by rubbing edges and corners with a small piece of rough stone, such as sandstone. You may even create small gashes and remove some of the fabric. Sandstone and limestone will come off on the fabric slightly, which can further enhance the distressed look.


Step 4

Fill a spray bottle with 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Spritz the mixture over any area on the fabric you want to look faded or where you want to remove color completely. Let the bleach sit on the fabric for about 30 minutes, then promptly machine wash to remove any traces of the bleach mixture. This technique works best on darker colored cotton-blend fabrics.


Step 5

Brew a small pot of strong coffee. Sponge the coffee onto the fabric to create a natural, subtle dye effect. Or dip the fabric directly into the coffee for a more saturated and distressed look. Allow the fabric to air dry completely.


Test all of these projects on a small scrap of the cotton-blend fabric before distressing an entire item.

Wear gloves when working with bleach products to keep your skin safe.



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